2 MONGOLIANS’ PERSPECTIVE ON THE 44TH ST. GALLEN SYMPOSIUM “CLASH OF GENERATIONS”
Conversation between Tana Jambaldorj and
Lkhagva Erdene – Leaders of tomorrow “knowledge pool” – which means we didn’t
have to submit an essay. Lkhagva was nominated by GIFT a think and do tank
based in Hong Kong and it is still unclear who recommended Tana to the event in
St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Lkhagva: So Tana, what was your take away from the last five days?
Tana: It was a humbling experience meeting 200 of our fellow Leaders of Tomorrow, especially seeing so many young people that have their own start-ups and initiatives. It really showed the trend that our generation is becoming the change they want to see around them.
This year’s theme was “Clash of Generations” and Prof. Laurence Kotlikoff said in his keynote speech: “We are at war with our beloved children and we are winning” do you agree with that statement?
Lkhagva: Don’t get me wrong. I loved the symposium but I had trouble with this year’s theme. I believe a good number of people agreed with me on this. I questioned whether we should focus on more concerning areas of discussion such as the clash of classes or even the crash of capitalism.
Tana: So you are saying you didn’t feel a strong atmosphere of clash at the symposium between the Leaders of Today and Leaders of Tomorrow? (Note: Leaders of Today were invited as the most relevant leaders of today while the Leaders of Tomorrow were selected as young minds who challenge the status quo)
Lkhagva: Exactly. We comfortably interacted and debated issues such as big data, privacy, and the social contract between generations. The student committee who organized the event did an awesome job of making everyone feel like a million bucks- from the BMW shuttles to abundance of Swiss chocolate and macarons.
What was your favorite dish in St. Gallen?
Tana: I think that’s a close tie between the beef tartare and the Swiss white chocolate mousse that were served at the International Student’s Council’s “Carpe Noctem” dinner night.
Who was your favorite speaker?
Lkhagva: Raghuram Rajan, Governor from the Reserve Bank of India. I got to ask him a question: watch the questioning take place here. I especially liked the points he made about Central Banks having a mandate beyond their domestic economy. I hate the fact that I missed his closed working session though. Who was your favorite speaker?
Tana: Of course I found Glencore-Xstrata CEO Ivan Glasenberg’s talk relevant, since I work in the mining industry in Mongolia. At the same time, I found Professor Niall Ferguson’s closing keynote speech on “Networks versus hierarchies” completely fascinating. I believe you also attended his closed session on China, how was that?
Lkhagva: He wasn’t very bullish on China, that’s for sure. So any takeaways for Mongolia from this experience?
Tana: My two main takeaways for Mongolia were building a culture of volunteerism and the importance of capitalizing on our natural resources.
The entire Symposium was organized and run by students of the University of St. Gallen, and as Niall Ferguson said, “the students here have done a better job than organizers at Davos”. The professionalism and enthusiasm with which every student approached their task of running the event, all voluntarily, was very admirable. We need to instill a stronger culture of volunteering in Mongolia, especially amongst young people, because it can bring together and empower like-minded individuals to achieve so much.
My other takeaway, is something I already strongly believe in- the importance of not waiting to use our mineral resources to build our economy. Of course Ivan Glasenberg, a big-time mining executive, stressed this point and his bullishness on commodities for the coming years. However, listening to Trond Grande of Norway’s central bank speak about the success of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund made me hopeful about the possibilities for Mongolia.
What about you?
Lkhagva: After listening to heads of states and finance ministers, my takeaway was that a strong government does not equate to an overbearing government. At the same time, we have to be careful about how democracy functions during a country’s early stages of development, and that we do not move too strongly towards a direct democracy.
Tana: So should we go again next year?
Lkhagva: Definitely, why not.
Tana Jambaldorj works in the mining industry, currently working for Oyu Tolgoi after spending two years working for Rio Tinto in Australia. She is also an organizer of the Mongolian Young Scholars Program, which she co-founded in 2011. Tana received her Bachelor’s degree in Economics and East Asian Studies from Harvard University.